A former Dagenham resident has kindly shared the letters sent to her father on VE Day by her mother and grandparents (her father’s in laws). Michael (Mickey) Behan was in the forces and still away at war in the Far East. Whilst Europe celebrated, the war in the Far East carried on for another 3 months until the Japanese surrendered.
Here are some snippets from the letters sent to Mickey by Mabel (his girlfriend, later wife) and Jim Pool (his future father-in-law). At the time the family were living at Whitebarn Lane, Dagenham and it’s quite clear that the party spirit was alive and well in Dagenham even though loved ones still away in the forces were dearly missed.
Letter from Mabel
I received a letter off you this morning, we have been all so merry & bright this last couple of days, I feel in the holiday spirit an[d] to make life more happy I got another of your dear letters it was three weeks ago I got your last one.
Well Darling as you must already [k]no[w] the war is over with the jerrys, I really just can’t believe it, we all had 2 days off work, we got the news 10 to 8 Monday but we celebrated Tuesday evening & boy did we celebrate, off we trot down Rainham club 6 o’clock and left there 12 o’clock. We drank all sorts, I have not seen so many spirits drunk in war time, gin, whiskey & rum I had all, we dance[d] in the hall, on the green & in the streets, there were bonfires everywhere, fireworks and all the large buildings were flood light, millions of search lights in the sky all criss crossing, it made me dizzy looking at them. Planes came over low and dropped different coloured lights. Mickey it was really a wonderful night. I would[n’t] have missed it for a 100 dollars, at a 1 minute past 12 Tuesday night all the boats, tugs & barges on the river were blowing their hooters and cocker doodling and all the factory hooters. I hope you can imagine all this just as I am trying to describe it.
Poor old mum passed out and also Aunt Rosie. Glad & I all had the same as them but we were able to keep on our feet, we just didn’t care what happened, my one and only regret was Mickey Darling that you weren’t there to share it with us. Dad said he missed you but we shall have another night when the Japs are finished and I don’t suppose that will be long so maybe you will be home for that. I only hope you were able to enjoy yourself VE night as well as could be expected, now no secrets, I told you everything you tell me all about your night. I was supposed to be at work 6 o’clock this morning I arrived in 7.15, better late than never. We went down the club again last night but it wasn’t quite so rowdy as night before, we didn’t go home VE night or I should say Wednesday morning we slept at Mary’s house. Well I think that is all I can tell you about VE night. …
Letter from Jim Pool
Well this is my Victory letter, it has come at last after six years of it, I think we are all lucky to be alive in the south, as I think we have suffer as much as anybody in the British I[sles]. So now Mick I hope they will hurry up & do the Japs the same, so that is all peaceful again. It is a treat not to worry about blackout & dug outs & go to bed in peace for the rockets was getting me down. Well Mick we celebrated the Victory OK, the only thing was missing was you mate, you was not forgotten, you always said you would be away when the war was over in Germany.
I gave the ladies a good time, they enjoy themselves, kept it up all the week, everybody was having a good time, street parties, flag everywhere. Bonfires in the middle of roads. We kept our up down Rainham Club, and they put the beer down to 8d a pint for two days, spirits 1/- a drop. Auntie Rose had to be put to bed & also Mick Schot’s wife. I went up & saw my mother’s grave first as it was three months the day she die. Well Mick I am having my holiday in August where I hope you will be home so I shall have to start saving up. Now Victory week is over I have not got much left now. …